RE Q&A: House Paid Off but Ex-wife’s Name Still on Deed

A divorce decree that awards the house to one spouse is akin to a set of instructions – and difficult situations can arise if those steps aren’t completed.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: When my husband divorced his former wife, he was awarded the house. We have been married for 10 years and recently paid off the mortgage. We want to remodel the home but do not want to pour more money into the house until her name is taken off the deed. What can we do? – Melisa

Answer: Being awarded the house in a divorce does not automatically take your ex-spouse off the title. The ex-spouse also needs to deed the house over.

Many divorcing couples are so happy that the suit is stopping that they forget to tie up loose ends. You will now need to have her sign a deed to your husband.

Hopefully, he still knows where to find her.

Even though so much time has gone by, they are both still bound by the dissolution judgment. It is ordering her to deed the house to him. If she refuses to do it, he may need to go back to the divorce court to force her to do what she is supposed to.

Many exes lose touch, and it may be difficult to find her. If this happens, the judge may require that you use your best efforts to locate her before taking a different path to put your home in your husband’s name.

Sometimes an ex-spouse will pass away without deeding over the property. When this happens, it may require working with the probate court or her heirs to get things cleared up.

If she is unavailable or unwilling, the first step is to gather copies of the paperwork from the divorce and speak to the attorney who helped him back then. The attorney will review the paperwork and let you know your options.

While some problems get better over time, this is not one of them. Even though so much time has gone by, take care of this now before the situation gets even worse.

© 2021 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC